Trail Bokkies: Gone Green Belt-ing
Sunday’s are meant for adventure… For getting out there and getting lost
The Trail Bokkies met for the usual Sunday long(er) run with just that in mind and the Green Belt in Constantia provided the perfect setting.
All those fortunate to live in Cape Town are truly spoilt when it comes to accessibility to epic trails. For most its a short drive, but for the luckiest they just have to leave their homes and the trail seems to start right on their doorsteps.
At 7:30am we convened in the parking lot of the Constantia Virgin Active (I was late – sorry guys!). This week the crew consisted of Danyaal, Nailah and I. The rest were either recovering from injury and illness or starting to fall ill – looks like we need to take a break from all those group hugs!
We exited the parking area and headed right and diagonally across the way towards Alphen Road which is next to the M3 on-ramp. About 50m from the corner of Alphen Road we started the Alphen Trail and began our visit to the gorgeous Green Belt.
The Green Belt Trails
For the first couple of kilometers it feels like you are doing a casual park run under the cover of trees, all while following a stream meandering through the leafy suburb of Constantia. The trail is very gentle and starts off soft and sandy underfoot. The entire run is not very technical, so you don’t really need to strap on your hardcore trail runners. The Alphen Trail provides a gentle warm-up to the trickier Diep River Trail where you suddenly get transported into what feels like a jungle hidden in the midst of the suburbs.
For me, this is where the fun starts.
The terrain of the Diep River Trail starts out relatively grassy. After crossing a couple of bridges, you are thrown into a jungle and ravine-like area similar to what you will find in KZN. It seems that nature has taken back from any man-made attempts at civilizing the area with lush overgrowth between the tall trees. There are a couple of roads that you cross as you run, but you are immediately returned to this lost world which seems to be completely separate and helluva effective at cutting you off from the suburban reality around you.
I had to constantly remind myself to focus and keep my eyes on the trail, else risk being upended by one of the many wayward roots covering the floor.
The Diep River trail spits you out at the top of the famed Southern Cross Drive, and there is a drinking fountain at the intersection with Rhodes Drive if you need a quick water break. From there we headed across the road and entered the outskirts of Cecilia Park (more commonly known as Cecilia Forest).
Danyaal and Nailah decided to head back at this point, which would bring their run up to about 8kms once they returned to the parking lot. I wasn’t ready to head back just yet and decided to venture further into Cecilia Forest.
Into Cecilia Forest
After following a short detour path, I hit the main jeep track and followed it for just over a kilometer. All around you see the remnants of the commercial logging plantation. There are stunning views as you reach the clearings with scenes of the forest around you as well as the False Bay coastline in the distance providing great photo ops.
The trail again is not hectic, but a good trail runner will help provide grip on some of the steeper descents. I decided to turn back before taking a single track trail deeper into the forest. It was getting really warm now and I really don’t do well in the heat.
The Way Back
I always try and use the return leg of our runs to solidify the imagery of the course in my memories. It was a lot of fun running across the bridges and streams of the Green Belt. The transition from the suburbs to gentle park run, then into jungle and forest was exactly the adventure I was looking for.
A word of advice: It’s best to get to the Green Belt early since it is a popular local spot and gets really full with walkers, runners and families out for a stroll – I will probably be back here with my little one
With summer coming in and temperatures rising, our runs have been starting earlier. Thankfully, the Green Belt route is very leafy and shade is provided by the help of tall trees. An added bonus are the water points along the trail where you can get some much needed sips in – Constantia showing off 🙂
I definitely found the Sunday Adventure I was looking for out at the Green Belt. Next time I definitely need to venture deeper into Cecilia Forest. It looks like an awesome place to get lost in 😀